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Writing a Research Paper

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❶Summary Because it is hard for dieters to stick to a low-carbohydrate eating plan, the initial success of these diets is short-lived Heinz,

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The Structure of a Research Paper
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12.1 Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper

For example, a writer would not need to cite the statement that most breads, pastas, and cereals are high in carbohydrates; this is well known and well documented. However, if a writer explained in detail the differences among the chemical structures of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, a citation would be necessary. When in doubt, cite. In recent years, issues related to the fair use of sources have been prevalent in popular culture.

For academic purposes, however, the guidelines for fair use are reasonably straightforward. Fair use means that the writer legitimately uses brief excerpts from source material to support and develop his or her own ideas.

For instance, a columnist may excerpt a few sentences from a novel when writing a book review. As he worked on his draft, Jorge was careful to cite his sources correctly and not to rely excessively on any one source. Occasionally, however, he caught himself quoting a source at great length. In those instances, he highlighted the paragraph in question so that he could go back to it later and revise. After reviewing the paragraph, Jorge realized that he had drifted into unoriginal writing.

Most of the paragraph was taken verbatim from a single article. Although Jorge had enclosed the material in quotation marks, he knew it was not an appropriate way to use the research in his paper.

Low-carbohydrate diets may indeed be superior to other diet plans for short-term weight loss. Heinz concluded that these plans yield quick results, an idea supported by a similar study conducted by Johnson and Crowe What remains to be seen, however, is whether this initial success can be sustained for longer periods. As Jorge revised the paragraph, he realized he did not need to quote these sources directly. Instead, he paraphrased their most important findings. He also made sure to include a topic sentence stating the main idea of the paragraph and a concluding sentence that transitioned to the next major topic in his essay.

Disorganization and carelessness sometimes lead to plagiarism. A writer may cut and paste a passage from a website into her paper and later forget where the material came from. A writer who procrastinates may rush through a draft, which easily leads to sloppy paraphrasing and inaccurate quotations. Any of these actions can create the appearance of plagiarism and lead to negative consequences.

Carefully organizing your time and notes is the best guard against these forms of plagiarism. Maintain a detailed working bibliography and thorough notes throughout the research process. Check original sources again to clear up any uncertainties.

Allow plenty of time for writing your draft so there is no temptation to cut corners. If you need to consult outside sources to research a document you are creating, follow the general guidelines already discussed, as well as any industry-specific citation guidelines. It is a point of honor taken seriously in every academic discipline and career field. Academic integrity violations have serious educational and professional consequences.

Students who are found guilty of academic integrity violations face consequences ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from the university. Employees may be fired for plagiarism and do irreparable damage to their professional reputation.

In short, it is never worth the risk. This is a derivative of Writing for Success by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution, originally released and is used under CC BY-NC-SA.

For uses beyond those covered by law or the Creative Commons license, permission to reuse should be sought directly from the copyright owner. Learning Objectives Apply strategies for drafting an effective introduction and conclusion. Identify when and how to summarize, paraphrase, and directly quote information from research sources. Apply guidelines for citing sources within the body of the paper and the bibliography. Use primary and secondary research to support ideas.

Identify the purposes for which writers use each type of research. The Structure of a Research Paper Research papers generally follow the same basic structure: Writing Your Introduction There are several approaches to writing an introduction, each of which fulfills the same goals.

Many writers like to begin with one of the following catchy openers: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets I. Introduction Over the past decade, increasing numbers of Americans have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon. Exercise 1 Write the introductory paragraph of your research paper.

Tip Writers often work out of sequence when writing a research paper. Writing Your Conclusion In your introduction, you tell readers where they are headed. Writing at Work If your job involves writing or reading scientific papers, it helps to understand how professional researchers use the structure described in this section.

Using Source Material in Your Paper One of the challenges of writing a research paper is successfully integrating your ideas with material from your sources. Summarizing Sources When you summarize material from a source, you zero in on the main points and restate them concisely in your own words. Summary In three recent studies, researchers compared outcomes for obese subjects who followed either a low-carbohydrate diet, a low-fat diet, or a Mediterranean diet and found that subjects following a low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight in the same time Howell, Tip A summary restates ideas in your own words—but for specialized or clinical terms, you may need to use terms that appear in the original source.

Exercise 2 On a separate sheet of paper, practice summarizing by writing a one-sentence summary of the same passage that Jorge already summarized. Paraphrasing Sources When you paraphrase material from a source, restate the information from an entire sentence or passage in your own words, using your own original sentence structure.

Source Dieters nearly always get great results soon after they begin following a low-carbohydrate diet, but these results tend to taper off after the first few months, particularly because many dieters find it difficult to follow a low-carbohydrate diet plan consistently.

Summary People usually see encouraging outcomes shortly after they go on a low-carbohydrate diet, but their progress slows down after a short while, especially because most discover that it is a challenge to adhere to the diet strictly Heinz, Summary Because it is hard for dieters to stick to a low-carbohydrate eating plan, the initial success of these diets is short-lived Heinz, Exercise 3 On a separate sheet of paper, follow these steps to practice paraphrasing.

Choose an important idea or detail from your notes. Without looking at the original source, restate the idea in your own words. Check your paraphrase against the original text in the source. Make sure both your language and your sentence structure are original.

Revise your paraphrase if necessary. Quoting Sources Directly Most of the time, you will summarize or paraphrase source material instead of quoting directly. When you do choose to quote directly from a source, follow these guidelines: Make sure you have transcribed the original statement accurately.

Never use a stand-alone quotation. Always integrate the quoted material into your own sentence. Use ellipses … if you need to omit a word or phrase. Use brackets [ ] if you need to replace a word or phrase. Make sure any omissions or changed words do not alter the meaning of the original text.

Omit or replace words only when absolutely necessary to shorten the text or to make it grammatically correct within your sentence. Remember to include correctly formatted citations that follow the assigned style guide. Documenting Source Material Throughout the writing process, be scrupulous about documenting information taken from sources. The purpose of doing so is twofold: To give credit to other writers or researchers for their ideas To allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired You will cite sources within the body of your paper and at the end of the paper in your bibliography.

Citing Sources in the Body of Your Paper In-text citations document your sources within the body of your paper. Summary Leibowitz found that low-carbohydrate diets often helped subjects with Type II diabetes maintain a healthy weight and control blood-sugar levels.

Summary Low-carbohydrate diets often help subjects with Type II diabetes maintain a healthy weight and control blood-sugar levels Leibowitz, Creating a List of References Each of the sources you cite in the body text will appear in a references list at the end of your paper.

In general, you will include the following information: Using Primary and Secondary Research As you write your draft, be mindful of how you are using primary and secondary source material to support your points. Using Primary Sources Effectively Some types of research papers must use primary sources extensively to achieve their purpose. Here are a few examples: A paper for a literature course analyzing several poems by Emily Dickinson A paper for a political science course comparing televised speeches delivered by two presidential candidates A paper for a communications course discussing gender biases in television commercials A paper for a business administration course that discusses the results of a survey the writer conducted with local businesses to gather information about their work-from-home and flextime policies A paper for an elementary education course that discusses the results of an experiment the writer conducted to compare the effectiveness of two different methods of mathematics instruction For these types of papers, primary research is the main focus.

Using Secondary Sources Effectively For some assignments, it makes sense to rely more on secondary sources than primary sources. To avoid unintentional plagiarism, follow these guidelines: Understand what types of information must be cited. Building the Essay Draft Building a strong essay draft requires going through a logical progression of stages: Explanation Development options Linking paragraphs Introductions Conclusions Revising and proofreading the draft Hints for revising and proofreading Tip: Explanation Once you know what you want to talk about and you have written your thesis statement, you are ready to build the body of your essay.

The thesis statement will usually be followed by: Show how one thing is similar to another, and then how the two are different, emphasizing the side that seems more important to you.

For example, if your thesis states, "Jazz is a serious art form," you might compare and contrast a jazz composition to a classical one. Show your reader what the opposition thinks reasons why some people do not agree with your thesis , and then refute those reasons show why they are wrong.

On the other hand, if you feel that the opposition isn't entirely wrong, you may say so, concede , but then explain why your thesis is still the right opinion. Think about the order in which you have made your points. Keep revisiting your thesis with three questions in mind: Does each paragraph develop my thesis?

Linking Paragraphs It is important to link your paragraphs together, giving your readers cues so that they see the relationship between one idea and the next, and how these ideas develop your thesis.

Here are some ways of linking paragraphs. The goals of an introduction are to: Hints for writing your introduction: Use the Ws of journalism who, what, when, where, why to decide what information to give. Remember that a history teacher doesn't need to be told "George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Why why is this paper worth reading? The answer could be that your topic is new, controversial or very important. Catch your reader by surprise by starting with a description or narrative that doesn't hint at what your thesis will be. For example, a paper could start, "It is less than a 32nd of an inch long, but it can kill an adult human," to begin a paper about eliminating malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Conclusions There can be many different conclusions to the same paper just as there can be many introductions , depending on who your readers are and where you want to direct them follow-up you expect of them after they finish your paper.

Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid topics that have only a very narrow range of source materials.

For general or background information, check out useful URLs , general information online , almanacs or encyclopedias online such as Britannica. Use search engines and other search tools as a starting point. Pay attention to domain name extensions, e. These sites represent institutions and tend to be more reliable, but be watchful of possible political bias in some government sites.

Network Solutions provides a link where you can find out what some of the other extensions stand for. Be wary of the millions of personal home pages on the Net. The quality of these personal homepages vary greatly. Learning how to evaluate websites critically and to search effectively on the Internet can help you eliminate irrelevant sites and waste less of your time. The recent arrival of a variety of domain name extensions such as.

Many of the new extensions have no registration restrictions and are available to anyone who wishes to register a distinct domain name that has not already been taken. For instance, if Books. Check out online resources, Web based information services, or special resource materials on CDs:.

Check out public and university libraries, businesses, government agencies, as well as contact knowledgeable people in your community. Bookmark your favorite Internet sites. Printout, photocopy, and take notes of relevant information. As you gather your resources, jot down full bibliographical information author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access on your work sheet, printout, or enter the information on your laptop or desktop computer for later retrieval.

If printing from the Internet, it is wise to set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page.

Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite its source. Most research papers normally require a thesis statement. If you are not sure, ask your teacher whether your paper requires it. A thesis statement is a main idea, a central point of your research paper.

The arguments you provide in your paper should be based on this cenral idea, that is why it is so important. Do some critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in one sentence. Your research paper thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief.

It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you write a thesis statement, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper. It will naturally change while you develop your ideas. Stay away from generic and too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read.

Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers. If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author.

More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form. In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics. The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another.

The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order. All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral. The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing. A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper.

Building a strong essay draft requires going through a logical progression of stages:

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Research Paper: Write a First Draft. Every essay or paper is made up of three parts: introduction body conclusion; The introduction is the first paragraph of the paper.

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Write the introductory paragraph of your research paper. Try using one of the techniques listed in this section to write an engaging introduction. Be sure to include background information about the topic that leads to your thesis.

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This guide entails how one is to write a research paper in the college environment. Research Paper -- First Draft Many students make the mistake of writing a report, not an argumentative essay, when they write a research paper. Reporting literally means relaying information. It does not mean you are stating your ideas on a topic. It does not mean giving your opinion about information.

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Steps in Writing a Research Paper; Building the Essay Draft; Building the Essay Draft Building a strong essay draft requires going through a logical progression of stages: Hints for revising and proofreading ; Tip: After you have completed the body of your paper, you can decide what you want to say in your introduction and in your conclusion. How to Write a Research Paper Rough Draft? Before you begin to write your research paper rough draft, you have some decisions to make READ MORE HERE.